in Indonesia, Peru

The World Bank’s inability to see deforestation in Peru

Earlier this month, more than 100 people flew to Peru to take part in a meeting in the Hilton Hotel in Lima. While they were there, “they demonstrated that innovative climate finance models can help protect forests and mitigate global climate change”.

The meeting was the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility’s 17th meeting. The comment about innovative climate finance models is the World Bank’s description of what happened during the three day meeting.

Of course, the Bank provides no evidence whatsoever to back up this claim.

In a Feature Story on the its website the Bank explains that,

“Few things inspire policymakers more than success stories from the field. With negotiators from around the world gearing up for the next UN climate meetings in Lima, Peru, in December, it’s an opportune time to showcase what is working.”

And the World Bank wants to showcase REDD as an example of what is working. In the parallel universe inhabited by World Bank staff, Indonesia is one of the countries in which REDD is working.

Indonesia is “known globally as a front runner for REDD+” the Bank tells us. It has a national REDD+ strategy, a national REDD+ Agency, and is making progress on “setting a baseline for its forest carbon against which success in maintaining forests and carbon will be measured”.

There’s one problem with all this: Indonesia’s rate of deforestation, which is the highest in the world. The World Bank seems blissfully unaware of this inconvenient fact. (Even the Union of Concerned Scientists in their recent Panglossian report about deforestation success stories had to admit that, “at present we could not confidently consider Indonesia a success story”.)

The World Bank doesn’t mention Peru’s forests in its puff piece about the FCPF’s meeting in Peru.

In December 2013, Rainforest Rescue started a petition addressed to Peru’s President, Ollanta Humala, calling on him to stop the operations of plantation companies in Loreto and Ucayali regions. Satellite images from NASA clearly show the forest clearance:

When Humala visited Berlin earlier this week, activists from Rainforest Rescue presented Peru’s Environment Minister, Pulgar Vidal, with 139,000 signatures against the destruction of Peru’s forest. Rainforest Rescue is aiming to collect one million signatures before the UN climate meeting (COP20) in Lima in December 2014.

Earlier this month, Survival International reported that,

A highly vulnerable group of uncontacted Amazon Indians has emerged from the rainforest in Brazil near the Peru border and made contact with a settled indigenous community.

According to Survival International,

The Brazilian government believes that the Indians were pushed over the border from Peru due to the failure of the authorities to combat illegal logging and drug trafficking in their territory.

The uncontacted Indians are extremely vulnerable. They have no immunity to common diseases such as flu or measles. Survival International is calling on the governments of Peru and Brazil to protect the uncontacted Indians’ land from illegal loggers and drug traffickers.

Gold mining is also a growing threat to Peru’s forests and rivers. Between 1999 and 2012, the area of illegal gold mining operations increased in Peru by 400%.

In January 2014, CIFOR pointed out that despite the government’s enthusiasm for REDD, deforestation in Peru continues. CIFOR put out a report (in Spanish) titled, “The context of REDD+ in Peru: Drivers, agents and institutions”. Although the rate of deforestation in Peru is low, this is likely to change. The lead author of the report, Hugo Che Piu, explained that,

“These historical deforestation rates do not reflect the effects of new and future interoceanic highways nor the recent agroindustrial expansion in the Amazon.”

Peru also has major plans to expand the exploitation of oil and gas in the country.

As in other countries, REDD is taking place in parallel with the destruction of the forests. Peru is involved in the World Bank’s FCPF and the UN-REDD programme. There are more than 40 forest carbon projects in the country. US$50 million is to come from the World Bank’s Forest Investment Plan.

The Peruvian government claims to be interested in the “co-benefits” of REDD, such as improved livelihoods, better forest governance and biodiversity conservation. But as Che Piu points out,

“[T]he funding streams proposed in the RPP for monitoring of carbon are 20 times the funds proposed for monitoring the social and environmental impacts.”


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